Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 2: Ija's House in ChiaYi

lf to rt: Ann, mother, Ann's daughter, sister, Ija

I wake up at 10PM and say to myself, "There's no way I'm making it to TaiNan (about 150km) today. Too tired." I call my friend Knight who is staying in YunLin with girlfriend Kim, only about an hours ride away. I see about staying there tonight. Negative. They're heading back to Taipei today. I search for options and think of my friend, Ija, in ChiaYi, about 100km away. She says cool. I ask her to help me to kind a hotel so when I get there I won't have to search for one. I also call Sandra, my friend, who lives in TaiNan county. I make arrangements to stay at her family's house the following night (Day 3).
I say my goodbyes and thanks to Timmy, who had been a great host, and set off for Chiayi at 2:20PM.
This ride was easier than the first leg in that it was shorter and pretty well flat. On the way out of the city, I ask a father/son duo, for directions to provincial road #1. They guide me and are very nice, as has been everybody I've yet encountered. It always adds time and distance getting into and out of cities.
Back on the 1, I feel at ease again. Straight forward and smooth. I break several times to rest, eat, stretch and take some pics. The sun starts to fall, then slowly fades under the horizon. I still have several hours of riding, now in the dark. I don't mind I guess. I have no choice. During this ride, I begin to have pains in my Achilles tendon, which would stick with me for the rest of the trip.
There are several advantages to riding at night. There are less cars, it's quieter, and cool. I also feel like I'm going faster. But it can be dangerous as cars may not see me. I align myself towards the specs of light in the distance and use the ubiquitous white line as my guide. My little lamp only providing enough light to have known what I fell into, after falling into it.
I get to ChiaYi about 4 hours later, after several calls and confirmations with Ija. She invites me to her house, where her family just finished a New Years dinner. The food still sits out when I arrive, for me I presume.
In enter to a lively welcome. A cozy living room deceivingly embraces many smiling faces and lots of love. I only know Ija and her entire family is present, mother, father, three sisters, father-in-law, baby, and now me. They all welcome me to sit and have some food. The traditional Taiwanese New Year fare is spread on the table: steamed and fried fish, rice noodles, just caught shrimp, wonderful chicken soup, and much more sit and wait for me to eat it. I am a light eater, even after riding for hours, and take my time picking every now and then. I feel a little awkward at first as one always does in such situations, but it quickly melts into a wet comfort from the warmth of her family. They are very nice. I eat slowly, chatting with her family. Kung Fu Panda is on the set. I shower and feel much better, then get to know everyone better. Their house has a very relaxing affect, I feel like I had been there my whole life. Her father leaves to go play Mahjhong at a friends house. Mother retires to her room. I stay up until 3AM reading, taking picutres and talking with the four sisters. I mainly talk with Ija about hiking, camping and outdoor stuff. I allowed myself a late night because I knew the next day would be a shorter ride. But 3AM was late enough, so I pack it in.

Distance: TaiChung to ChiaYi 106km
Time: 4hrs. 40min.

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